Many options are available for you to choose from if you are avoiding getting pregnant. Choices vary in reliability, application or implementation method. In addition, consider the added benefits and side effects in order to make the right choice of the best method that will suit your situation and health conditions.
If there is one foolproof method of avoiding pregnancy, it is by abstaining from or avoiding sexual intercourse. Abstinence is 100 percent safe and reliable. The only caveat is that it is not always easy to do because sexual arousal can sometimes happen unexpectedly. This method has no major side effects and can prevent transfer of sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Barrier methods make use of physical or chemical barriers designed to stop sperms from entering your uterus. They include condoms, spermicides, diaphragm, cervical cap or contraceptive sponge. Of the barrier methods, using condoms is the only one that can prevent an STD.
Condoms are available for males and females. Made with thin, tube-like latex materials, male condoms are the most common types of condoms to cover a man’s penis prior to sexual intercourse. Made with polyurethane with two flexible rings, female condoms, on the other hand, cover the cervix and the vaginal canal. According to the Center for Young Women’s Health, condoms are 97 percent effective. Condoms are not hazardous to either user’s health.
Spermicides are chemicals that can kill sperm. You can choose foam, tablets, jelly or vaginal suppositories. Spermicides are 85 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
A diaphragm is a dome made of soft rubber stretched over a ring that contains spermicidal cream. Insert the diaphragm inside your vagina to cover the cervix no more than three hours prior to intercourse. A diaphragm is 94 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
A cervical cap is quite similar to a diaphragm because it also contains spermicides but comes in a form of a cap made of rubber or plastic. Once inserted into the vagina, a cervical cap can cover the cervix. The cervical cap is 96 percent effective.
Finally, a contraceptive sponge is a soft device shaped like a saucer and made from polyurethane foam. It is 87 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
Birth control pills, hormone injections, patches, implants and rings are examples of hormonal contraceptive methods. Hormonal methods use estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation, thickening mucus to prevent sperm from penetrating the egg and causing the uterus walls to become thin to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. Hormonal methods do not prevent transfer of STD; however, they can be very effective (up to 99 percent).
According to the American Pregnancy Association, birth control pills offer added health benefits such as reducing the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, reducing bone loss, regulating menstruation, relieving menstrual pain, relieving perimenopausal symptoms and managing acne.
Some disadvantages of hormonal treatments include increased risk for blocked blood vessels and stroke in women who smoke, weight gain, menstrual bleeding, increased blood pressure and possible adverse effects on cholesterol levels.